People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) president Andyford Banda says the PF are not ready to make changes to their governance style to address the country’s current economic challenges.

In an interview, Banda said President Lungu was not committed to making drastic changes to suit the economy as evidenced by his continued international trips, the most recent being his attendance of Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi’s inauguration amidst government’s austerity measures.

“What President Lungu needs to understand is that the challenges we are facing are a result of bad decisions, not global economic factors. Those bad decisions have been made from the time PF came into government, from the time President Lungu gained power in 2015. Obviously, we have seen that the President has been travelling, globe-trotting for a long time now. It doesn’t look like he is slowing down. These trips cost a lot of money. That jet that he is riding in costs a lot of money. So, there is no commitment from the President to actually ensure that this economy is back on track,” Banda said.

“The problem that we have with him is that he doesn’t globe-trot to go and sign trade agreements; he just goes there for ceremonies, inaugurations. In the face of austerity measures, you will expect the President to be actually at home and miss some of these events; send the Ambassador there in Mozambique to attend the inauguration to save money. We don’t believe the PF is actually ready to make drastic measures to change the economy. They are not willing to go out of the way to change things; right now, they are looking at 2021. They want to please a few people at the expense of the majority.”

He insisted that there was need for the PF to reduce the cost of running government for the country to overcome its current economic challenges.

“One thing he needs to understand is that no one is going to bring money during an election year. So, whatever he is saying that ‘the economy will bounce back,’ it has to start with him making the right decisions; not all things are supposed to happen by accident. No one is going to bring money, [investors are] sceptical when you are going into an election; they want to see what is going to happen next year in 2021. The challenges that this country is facing are a result of poor leadership, not because of global economic factors. If the President is hoping that things are going to happen by accident for this economy to thrive, then he is misplaced,” Banda added.

“He needs to reduce on the cost of running business, but you see, when he says something else and he is doing something else, it means that even other bad decisions, such as overpriced procurement in government, are still happening. What reforms have the government done to change their system and ensure that there have been changes in the economy? So, there is no roadmap. What has the government done to ensure that the economy is going to recover? Those are just speeches! What people do, who have a vision for this country, is to address the country and say, ‘if the economy is to recover, this is what we are going to do,’ but there is nothing like that.”

When asked if holding a national economic indaba would help the country address the current challenges, he argued that such a scheme was not a solution because the governance system was still rotten.

“I don’t think an indaba is going to help. For things to change in this government, a lot of things will have to happen. Talking about reforms; talking about us getting rid of people that are in key government decision-making positions, who are not making the right decisions. So, is President Lungu ready to let the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) work independently? Is he ready to let the people work independently? Because don’t underestimate a lot of these governance issues where activists are arrested; where political parties are not allowed to campaign freely; like the government is trying to enact Bill 10. All these factors affect how an economy is run because in the eyes of investors, they don’t feel safe if government is acting like that,” said Banda.

“An indaba is a place where good ideas may be discussed and may be agreed upon and then what happens next? They are not going to be worked on because the system is still rotten! Any good ideas also need a proper system for those ideas to actually thrive. So, we don’t believe that an indaba without commitment would change the economy.”